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'Winging It

    by Stan Smith

Camping with Dad
Date Posted: September 27, 2023

I never really realized how good I had it growing up. We weren't rich by any means. Dad worked for the county. Government workers are typically not among the wealthy. But we had food, clothing, and shelter. We weren't hurting. I didn't really appreciate that. (Appreciate: to assign value.)

One thing that struck me the other day was my father's penchant for vacations. He loved vacations. (Still does, in fact, well into his 80's ... and retired.) So we would go on camping trips. Tents, sleeping bags, fishing poles ... you get the idea. I remember us three kids stuffed in the back of a Volkswagen Beetle (my little brother stuffed behind the back seat) with gear on the roof and we'd go up to the Mammoth Lakes area of California, set up a campsite, and vacation. Good times. Once he took my brother and I and packed us in by horseback up into the Sierra Nevadas. We tented there and fished and then hiked out the ten miles home. He often enjoyed taking us two boys with him for a weekend excursion to Ensenada, Mexico, to go deep sea fishing. We saved money by sleeping in sleeping bags on the beach.

Of course, Mom wasn't exactly a tenting aficionado, but what she was was a godly woman who followed her husband's instructions and we did it. My father, though, was a good husband. He figured out that if he was going to please his wife and do his traveling, he'd have to come up with another approach.

I remember that first trip -- the summer of 1970 -- around the country for four weeks in his first motorhome. Now, I have to tell you, a young teenage boy traveling the country all summer is typically not very impressed. I was no different. I did enjoy those RV trips to Baja California where we brought a friend and stayed a week on remote sand dunes along the beach. Four years after that first big trip, we took a 6-week trip to Alaska. And I was definitely not pleased. A sour puss for the whole time, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the trip; I just wasn't going to admit it right then, especially not to myself.

Well, so it went. My father was a good dad who enjoyed traveling, fishing, vacations. He always seemed to enjoy himself. He never complained. I remember, on that backpack trip in the Sierras, my fishing reel exploded. So there I was, not too impressed with fishing anyway, holding the pole while my father, an avid fisherman, was trying to recover reel parts from the lake to reassemble it while my brother hauled in trout with only half of a worm. Dad didn't complain. When I caught my brother in the face with the two-hook bass lure, Dad calmly removed the hooks and didn't complain. When I snagged my fishing line on his pants, Dad didn't complain. He was always good to me.

I grew up fairly comfortable, well loved, and well taken care of. Good parents, good breeding, good education, and good times. And you know something? I didn't really appreciate it.

That's the way we are. God is so good to us. He gives us so much. He doesn't get mad when we throw tantrums or when things go wrong or He "doesn't get His way". He gives us more than we deserve and less than we deserve. More grace and less pain. For which we are typically and sadly ungrateful.

Well, I aim to be grateful. At least today.

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Biography Information:
Born and raised in a Christian home, I've been treated to immersion in the Word and squandered it. 'But God ...' I love the phrase. God has been faithful when I was unfaithful. At every turn He has crowded me to Him.

I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.

For more writings you can see my blog at
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